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Constantino inches closer to record win after 70, leads by 2

CABANATUAN CITY – Harmie Constantino faced relentless challenges throughout the day but displayed late-round brilliance to secure a 70 and extend her lead to two strokes over promising junior golfer Jiwon Lee after 36 holes of the ICTSI Lakewood Championship in Nueva Ecija Wednesday, June 5.

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Harmie Constantino (PGT)

Three birdies in the last six holes gave Constantino a 36-34 round at the softened Lakewood Golf and Country Club, providing her with crucial breathing room as she prepares for Thursday’s final round of the P750,000 championship. She is aiming for a record fourth straight victory on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour.

On the brink of another win with a 136 total and a two-stroke advantage, Constantino remains cautious. “I have no expectations. But my target is to hit more greens and make more putts,” she said.

After a stellar 66 on Tuesday, Constantino initially struggled to find her rhythm, posting a two-birdie, two-bogey card through 11 holes. She even fell to one-over with another bogey on No. 12, allowing Chihiro Ikeda, Florence Bisera, and Lee to challenge her lead.

However, the Palos Verdes, Caliraya Springs and the Philippine Masters winner finished strong, birdying three of the last six holes, a closing flourish her rivals couldn’t match.

Ikeda, who was just one shot behind Constantino after a sterling 67 Tuesday, also struggled with form. She had one birdie and one bogey through 13 holes and conceded a stroke on the par-5 14th, which she had previously birdied. A birdie on No. 16 was nullified by another bogey on the tough par-3 17th, resulting in a 73 and a drop to fourth place at 140, now four strokes behind the leader.

Bisera, five strokes behind after 18 holes, mounted a remarkable charge with a bogey-free 68, anchored by her solid driving. Despite missing a couple of chances that could have brought her closer to Constantino, she improved to third at 139, three shots behind.

“I hit all the fairways, leaving me with wedge shots to go for the first two long holes (Nos. 5 and 8),” said Bisera, who, however, settled for one par at the back, flubbing her chances on Nos. 14 and 18.

Focus, however, will be on Lee, who continued to impress beyond her years. After an opening 69 highlighted by two eagles, the back-to-back winner of the first two legs of the Junior PGT crafted another three-under round, securing the role of challenger at 138.

“I had a lot of missed putts inside four feet. Tomorrow (Thursday), I’ll try my best to make them,” said Lee, 16. While she emphasized that she’s not chasing the win but rather the experience and the chance to compete with the country’s leading professionals, her chances of humbling her more experienced rivals remain high.

“It’s not really about chasing the win. I just really want to have fun, enjoy the game, and stay relaxed,” said Lee, whose final round strategy remains firm – stay on the fairways and greens.

Lee bogeyed the second hole for the second straight day but birdied four of the next eight holes impressively. She failed to get up-and-down on Nos. 11 and 12 but showed remarkable resolve by birdying Nos. 15 and 18.

Gretchen Villacencio matched Bisera’s 68 to move to solo fifth but remained seven strokes off with a 143, while Marvi Monsalve and Mikha Fortuna carded identical 71s for 144 and 145, respectively, in the fifth leg of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. which stakes P97,500 to the winner.

Princess Superal continued to struggle, finishing with a 73 and slipping to joint ninth with Apple Fudolin, who shot a 71, at 148.

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Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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